Information on the situation of the Dervish religious group [IRN25578.E]

The following information was provided during a 29 November 1996 telephone interview with a French journalist who was posted in Iran between 1992 and 1996.

The source estimated that there are a few thousand members of the Dervish sect in Iran. The source stated that in Iran Dervish religious beliefs and membership is mainly engrained in family tradition. The Dervishes have no legal status in Iran as is the case for Christians and Jews. The Dervishes have the right to practice their religious beliefs because they represent a marginal phenomenon in Iran. The source, who personally attended Dervish religious ceremonies while in Iran, added that the Dervish are monitored by security forces but tolerated as long as they do not interfere with the regime. For historical reasons dating back to the pre-Shah era, members of the sect are suspicious of their social environment. For example, although their religious ceremonies are not secret, people who want to witness Dervish religious practices must be invited by a member of the sect. The source stated that the Iranian Dervish were enjoying a certain popularity with important members of the Iranian intelligensia and the regime apparatus.

Additional information on this subject is available in the attached documents.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the DIRB within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum.


French journalist posted in Iran, Paris, France. 29 November 1996. Telephone interview.


Agence France Presse (AFP). 15 June 1996. "12 Moslem Monks Hanged in Iran for Running Brothels." (NEXIS)

The Independent [London] 15 November 1995. "Death by Stning." (NEXIS)

The Irish Times [Dublin] 1 November 1996. Brendan McWilliams. "Distinguishing the Dervishes" (NEXIS)

Reuters. 14 November 1995."Iran Mystic Stoned to Death for Adultery, Sodomy." (NEXIS)